Coronavirus

The Normalization of COVID Seen in Colorado Hospital Behavior

The Denver Health emergency entrance.
The Denver Health emergency entrance. Google Maps
COVID-19 has officially been an unwanted part of Colorado life since March 2020, and there have been plenty of twists and turns over the past eighteen months of living with the disease. Among them is what appears to be a normalization of the virus in respect to hospitalizations.

According to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, far fewer symptomatic people are admitted to medical facilities on Saturdays and Sundays than over the rest of the week, apparently because many of them would rather not ruin their weekend.

Here are the most recent CDPHE stats in major categories, updated after 4 p.m. on September 27. They're juxtaposed with information from our previous COVID-19 survey, which tracked figures from September 20.

665,469 cases (up 12,004 from September 20)
29,030 variants of concern (up 1,847 from September 20)
2,624 variants under investigation (up 1 from September 20)
38,214 hospitalized (up 595 from September 20)
64 counties (unchanged since September 20)
7,503 deaths among cases (up 98 from September 20)
7,808 deaths due to COVID-19 (up 93 from September 20)
6,099 outbreaks (up 87 from September 20)


Four major takeaways:

During a September 21 press conference, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy talked about signs of gradual but still high-level COVID plateauing of cases in the state, and that's borne out by current counts. The total for the week ending September 27 was 12,004 new cases, down a bit from the 13,085 calculated for the same period on September 20.

• The same phenomena is evident for new hospitalizations: The September 27 total of 595 admissions is lower than the 688 bump on September 20.

• Outbreaks dipped slightly as well: 87 new entries on September 27, versus 88 on September 20.

• There's also been a decline in just-confirmed COVID deaths, which went from 116 on September 20 to 93 on September 27.

Daily COVID cases are showing related signs of improvement. Only one day in the last ten, September 17, saw more than 2,000; on September 26, the number slid below 1,000 for the first time this month. Here are the stats:

September 26 — 946 Cases
September 25 — 1,159 Cases
September 24 — 1,633 Cases
September 23 — 1,713 Cases
September 22 — 1,759 Cases
September 21 — 1,473 Cases
September 20 — 1,408 Cases
September 19 — 1,149 Cases
September 18 — 1,760 Cases
September 17 — 2,023 Cases

More worrisome is the state's positivity rate: On September 27, it hit 7.24 percent, above the 5.91 percent reading from a week earlier and much higher than the 5 percent threshold the state health department sees as a warning sign that not enough testing is being done. But the number of outpatient syndromic COVID-19 visits edged lower: 5.52 on September 28, compared to 5.78 percent on September 20.

New hospital admissions displayed a strong disparity between weekdays and weekends. The admissions on Saturday, September 18, and Sunday, September 19, tallied 25 and 33, respectively, while Monday's admissions jumped to 143. On Saturday, September 25, 26 people were admitted, followed by 27 on Sunday, September 26. But on Monday, September 27, admissions hit 92.

Overall hospitalizations for the disease exceeded 900 over each of the past ten days. Here are the figures:

New Hospital Admissions by Admission Date

September 27, 2021
92 patients admitted to the hospital
85 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

September 26, 2021
27 patients admitted to the hospital
92 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

September 25, 2021
26 patients admitted to the hospital
93 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

September 24, 2021
108 patients admitted to the hospital
93 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

September 23, 2021
100 patients admitted to the hospital
95 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

September 22, 2021
141 patients admitted to the hospital
95 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

September 21, 2021
102 patients admitted to the hospital
89 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

September 20, 2021
143 patients admitted to the hospital
94 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

September 19, 2021
33 patients admitted to the hospital
92 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

September 18, 2021
25 patients admitted to the hospital
91 seven-day average patients admitted to the hospital

Patients Currently Hospitalized for COVID-19

September 27, 2021
966 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
884 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
82 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 26, 2021
972 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
879 (90 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
93 (10 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 25, 2021
959 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
871 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
88 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 24, 2021
971 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
881 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
90 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 23, 2021
974 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
900 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
74 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 22, 2021
952 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
877 (92 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
75 (8 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 21, 2021
973 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
876 (90 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
97 (10 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 20, 2021
980 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
890 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
90 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 19, 2021
935 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
849 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
86 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

September 18, 2021
930 Total COVID Patients (Confirmed & Suspected/PUI)
847 (91 percent) Confirmed COVID-19
83 (9 percent) Persons Under Investigation

As tracked on the CDPHE's vaccine data dashboard, inoculations slowed again over the past week. During the week ending September 27, another 30,224 people became fully immunized against COVID — compared with 34,016 who reached that status by September 20. Those who've received their first shot tumbled, too, moving from 29,886 on September 20 to 27,169 on September 27 — and individuals dosed with the Pfizer vaccine on September 27 rose a bit over September 20, when the figures for both Moderna and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson headed in the opposite direction. The details:

3,450,696 people fully immunized in Colorado (up 30,224 from September 20)
3,764,692 people immunized with at least one dose (up 27,169 from September 13)
1,343 people vaccinated on September 27 with Pfizer vaccine (up 546 from September 20); 5,323 immunizations with Pfizer vaccine reported September 27 but administered on an earlier date (up 874 from September 20)
275 people immunized on September 27 with Moderna vaccine (down 40 from September 20); 937 immunizations with Moderna vaccine reported September 27 but administered on an earlier date (down 331 from September 20)
21 people vaccinated on September 27 with Janssen (J&J) vaccine (up 6 from September 20); 66 immunizations with Janssen vaccine reported September 27 but administered on an earlier date (down 178 from September 20)

Herlihy warned that stabilizing COVID data could switch into a spike once the weather forces more of us indoors, and with a forecast for cooler temperatures in place, that remains a possibility. Until then, many Coloradans who start suffering serious COVID symptoms on the weekend would rather wait until Monday to head to the emergency room.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts